1. Timing is everything
I know I know.. there is no such thing as perfect timing for sugar detox. But there is definitely such thing as bad timing. Don’t start the detox when you are on vacation or in the midst of stressful exam period or year-end at work. Choose a slower, warmer month of the year, preferably in the summer time when your body is not exhausted by the long winter and lack of vitamin D. Ensure that there are no major events coming up like weddings or birthday parties where there will be too many temptations of treats and alcohol topped up with peer pressure.
2. Drink plenty of water, herbal tea and other natural beverages
Liquids do not only keep you hydrated but also help stabilizing digestion and flash out toxins from the body. If you don’t like the taste of pure water, try adding some lemon, cucumber and mint for a refreshing burst of flavor. Also, this is a great time to experiment with new varieties of teas you might have never thought of before. Go exotic and explore flavors that are different from your usual preference. This will be a fun exercise and a treat for the taste buds.
3. Get plenty of sleep
Sugar detox like any other type of detox is a stress for the body. To help your body adjust to the change, give it enough time to rest and re-set itself every night through the duration of the detox. Well rested, you will have more energy throughout the day and way fewer cravings for sweets. If you experience trouble getting enough sleep or constant sleep deprivation, experiment with sleeping in 90 minute increments to ensure you wake up at the completion of sleep cycle.
4. Put yourself in a holistic frame of mind
Whether you are like me and trying sugar detox as a step on the path to paleo lifestyle or simply as a step for better health and well-being, it wouldn’t hurt to expand the practice to more than just the food selection. Why not try some other mindful activities like yoga, meditation, spa, tantra, swimming, jogging, painting, reading or any other activity of your choice that would connect you to yourself and the nature? This would create a more wholesome and satisfying experience overall with more potential that you would stick to the healthy lifestyle beyond day 21.
5. Do your homework ahead of time
Prepare well: research recipes, ingredients and best practices ahead of time. If you are doing the sugar detox for the first time it will be overwhelming. You will find many foods that have hidden sugar content so you would need to be careful reading the labels and restaurant menus. Come up with a shopping list and plan your menu for the entire three weeks. You can always adjust it on the go but it would save you lots of time and frustration once you start the detox.
6. Get a detox partner
If at all possible, avoid going at it alone especially if you live with someone who you usually share your meals with. This way not only you would decrease the possibility of various temptations but also gain emotional support from doing it as part of a team, and sharing the progress and experience with someone else. If your close friends and partners are not up to the challenge, there are many bloggers who share their experiences with sugar detox through the entire 21 days. Chances are you will feel more motivated to stick to the challenge just by reading about their experiences and comments from others.
7. Come up with your new favorite treats
Not every treat has to contain tones of sugar to be enjoyable. Although the sugar detox gets progressively easier after the first 4-5 days, you will still have moments of weakness when you would dream of a piece of chocolate or wish you could have something sweet, even if a tiny bit. These cravings will almost disappear towards the end of the three weeks, but in the meantime take advantage of little treats that are allowed on 21 day sugar detox. You can treat yourself to one green tip banana a day or one granny smith apple. You could even have pancakes for breakfast! Try this banana pancake recipe with some nut butter on a side. And don’t forget about the subtly sweet vegetables. One huge advantage of the 21 day sugar detox is the newly found appreciation for taste. Uncluttered from the presence of sugar, your taste buds will actually love the gentle sweetness of grape tomatoes, red, yellow and orange peppers, sweet potatoes, beets and carrots. Be mindful of the quantities and don’t overindulge, but feel free to enjoy these as snacks and in moderation.
8. Remove the temptations
Out of sight – out of mind. Before starting the 21 day sugar detox, clean your kitchen cabinets of everything that isn’t safe for the next three weeks. If you don’t want to throw it out – give it to friends, relatives or simply store it some place else temporarily. After you do this, replenish the empty fridge shelves with plenty of vegetables and proteins. Experiment with new varieties and kinds – this is the perfect time to try new things!
9. Stay active
Staying physically active boosts metabolism, gives you energy and keeps your mind off sweets and forbidden foods. Once again, variety is the key. Try something you have never tried before – rollerblading, skating, dancing or martial arts – activities that would guarantee you burning calories and infusing appetite for healthy carbs and proteins.
10. Don’t skip meals
If you are undertaking the 21 sugar detox as part of weight loss diet, you may be tempted to eat as little as possible in line with stereotypical weight and fat loss conditioning that we have all been exposed to. Contrary to the popular belief, eating less does not always lead to losing weight. In fact you should be eating smaller portions more often throughout your day to keep your metabolism and digestion going by fueling it with wholesome nutrients. Avoid moments of hunger and low blood sugar by supplying your body with a constant stream of nourishment timed evenly through the day: breakfast, morning snack, lunch, afternoon snack, dinner. Avoid eating late in the evening, but if you must – eat something easily digestible like a veggie salad, green apple or a green tip banana.